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Analysts Discuss North Korea Policy, Foley Page Scandal, Congressional Races

Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss U.S. reaction to North Korea's nuclear test, the congressional page scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., and the congressional races in the midterm elections.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, that's the most remarkable story about this micro-financing and the Nobel Peace Prize; do you agree?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    I do.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes, just stunning.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yup.

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, you think about the history of foreign aid, these huge projects to create, you know, auto plants, energy plants. And the correlation between that kind of aid and actual growth is zero. And then, you know, you go into little villages where people can actually do something practical, and there you get this big bang for the buck. It is a David and Goliath-type story.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes, and the fact that the Nobel Peace Committee found out about it and honored it is also remarkable.

    North Korea nuclear test story, Mark. What do you think of the way the administration is playing it right now?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Well, I think the administration is playing it differently. And I think they're playing it — it's a response that's directed somewhat by necessity. The president's response has been more restrained, more muted.

    But that's in part, Jim, because he's trying to put together the resolution. He's trying to reassure other nations to bring them along, particularly China, in that resolution, so there is concerted world action.

    Second, he has to reassure American voters, three and a half weeks before an election, that there's not going to be another war. So that tamps down the rhetoric somewhat or the inclination to be tough or confrontational.

    And third, I'd say, that there is no military action. There's no realistic military option. So it's…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    It's either sanctions and they give up or forget it. Is that what you're saying?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yes.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree with that?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I think so. I don't see any option, to me honest, any practical realistic option. And we've had this back and forth over the past week between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and various experts on this program and elsewhere, six-party talks, two-party talks, carrots, sticks.

    I think they're all persuasive: They all persuade me the other approach doesn't work. And, you know, Clinton had a deal in '94, which was reneged upon. That didn't seem to work particularly well. The Bush administration approach, you know, gradual pressure, six-party with China…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Oh, then — I remember we reported it and talked about it on this program, the six-party thing. Everybody believed, "Oh, my goodness, well, we dodged that bullet. There's not going to be a nuclear thing from North Korea." Boom, didn't work.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, the fact is, if you're sort of a Stalinist rogue regime and you want a nuclear weapon, it's worth it for you to get a nuclear weapon. It enhances your prestige. Maybe you can sell it down the line. Unless somebody is willing to take radical action, which is militarily, which it's not going to do, or China is really going to be willing to destabilize the whole country, it's very hard to stop people from getting this.

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